Blogging + College = ???: Networking

(Caidyn)

Another edition, right? I hope everyone had a great weekend, and everyone from America has a great three day weekend!

The topic I’m going to touch on this post is networking. As in, getting your shit together and making nice with people even if you don’t want to. This is difficult for me.

On the inside, I’m an angry old man. I’m sure that Chantel will vouch there. I am an angry old man who will shout at children to get off my lawn. (Actually, I almost have a few times.) See the above man. Bobby Singer is me on the inside. I might be smiling, but, really, I’m channeling him.

I think people are stupid.

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I’m sarcastic.

I swear too much.

I can be a bit mean.

So, obviously, this is a challenge for me. However, I did it on Thursday and I’m planning on doing it some more next week. I chatted with, by accident, three different professors from my minor, which is Religious Studies. One I scheduled to see since I haven’t seen her for a year and I love that woman. We talked for a good hour. The next two were by accident. My prof for Jewish Faith was by the copier and we started talking since it’d be awkward to just stop when I had time to talk. We talked about the class, then a professor I had last semester and am going to use as a reference (I just need to inform him that I am since he offers it every time I see him) came by.

So, there we are, in the middle of the hallway. Pulling out our phones to show each other our dogs and then me lifting up my shorts to show off my tattoo of my late dog’s paw.

And then, as I said, I have to do this at least twice more this semester.

Basically, I have to ask two more people to be my references. I feel like I’m going to die. And now Bobby is shouting at me.

It just really sucks, but this is a part of being an adult. You have to be nice and make friends, otherwise, you won’t survive. Although I hate it, I’m good at it. I’m a great student and I try to be nice to all of my professors, which means that they like me. Hell, my advisor was so impressed by me during a chance meeting (all because I was able to talk about fMRIs) that he offered then and there to be my advisor.

So, I guess that I’ll be okay.

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Now, serious talk. Are there any topics that you guys would like to touch on? Seriously, I’d love to hear what you guys would want to see from my experience and what’s worked for me on them. Feel free to leave a comment and your request will probably be a part of this series.

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Un⭐que Blogger Award

Yes, we got nominated for another award. Trust me, this boggles our minds as much as it does yours. We were nominated by Ash, so we really owe her a huge thank you. So, thank you, Ash! We really appreciate it since we do consider ourselves quite unique. (Your bloggers are an Aries and a Gemini. Trust us. We’re bad at the whole humble thing.)

The rules are to provide a link to the blogger who nominated you, to answer the questions, nominate 8-13 more people, and to, finally, ask those people 3 questions of our own.

Caidyn’s answers will be in blue.

Chantel’s answers will be in purple.

1. Would you rather only be able to read 3 books or only be able to read books backwards (ending to beginning)?

Only be able to read three books. Because I’m picturing having to read books from the last word to the first word and that sounds horrible.

Not gonna lie, reading some books backward would be a more pleasant experience with certain books. However, since this is a purely hypothetical scenario I choose reading three books. The real question is, what three books? 

I thought that we’d be choosing our own books, so that’s all good by me. Unless it’s choosing books that you hate.

2. If you could remove any book from your memory which would it be?

Anything by Philippa Gregory.

I wish my dear brown eyes had never read Adam by Ariel Schrag. They didn’t deserve such a thing and my poor brain was confused by thinking this is a good book. It makes me angry now. The blurb on Goodreads makes it sound a lot better than it actually is. It should NOT be categorized as an LGBT+ book. It is not, I assure you. Also, I read like a paragraph from 50 Shades of Grey and that was too much for me. 

That’s the book that you told me about, right? Or I think that you did. It sounds familiar. Fun fact: My mom’s a librarian and sometimes I check out books or movies just to see if she’ll bring them home. I did that with 50 Shades of Grey.

Yeah, I’ve ranted about it over on other tags so if you are curious, go check those out! You are pure evil. 

I know.

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3.  If all of your books got stolen on a cargo ship in the middle of the ocean and the thief said “You have to jump overboard in order to get them back” would you do it?

Okay, this is actually a really hard question for me because I’m terrified of open water. No joke. I can’t even look at pictures of open water without getting freaked out. It’s probably a clinical phobia by now, so just thinking about jumping in the middle of the ocean when I haven’t gone swimming in any type of water in over five years gets my heart racing. But, I would do it. I would jump in the fucking ocean to get them back. Or I’d say fuck you and just buy everything on my Kindle.

Um, no because I’d drown. I can’t swim and I’d rather live. Fuck you books. I’ll just buy new copies. 

I’m terrified of open water and I can swim. I live in Kansas, with no water around me whatsoever, and I can swim. 

I never learned and nearly drowned when I was a child, so not interested. 

I’d try to rescue them for you.

Aww!


Our questions:

  1. Coffee or tea and why?
  2. If you could meet any author dead or alive, who would it be and why?
  3. If you could get any bookish tattoo, what would you get and why? (This doesn’t count bookish tattoos you might already have, but feel free to share those, too!)

August Wrap-Up/Book Haul and September Plans

Hello, everyone! We’re trying things a bit new here. Aka, adding in commentary on each other’s because we like intruding and making random comments about the other’s life choices. Believe us, texting is always interesting for that reason.

We’re also deciding to put a book haul part in here since, usually, we have no self-restraint and invariably buy books or bookish things.

Together, we read Bonk by Mary Roach and enjoyed it. As for September, we’re dipping our toes into dystopian fiction with The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Caidyn’s text will be in the predictable blue.
Chantel’s text will be in the equally predictable purple.


Now, since I started it off, I guess that I get to go on with it.

I intended to read a lot… and set myself up for failure. Sounds like usual. I’m ambitious as fuck, tbh. I read The Heart’s Invisible Furies and DNFed Crazed (no review because it was down to other things, not the badness of the book), the two ARCs I had on my plate. I also read 1066 & The Battle of Hastings, which was a fantastic introduction to that period. As for the other books on my docket, I didn’t have the interest to read The Reader or Age of Anger, DNFed The Black Witch, somewhat enjoyed Strange the Dreamer, and enjoyed Tash Hearts Tolstoy.

Other than that, I read books I didn’t expect. As for ARCs, I DNFed (admittedly) Istanbul and She Be Damned. The reviews for both are only on Goodreads since they were so short and I didn’t read enough to do anything more than a paragraph, just enough to know they weren’t for me. I listened to Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words; The Eternal Nazi; We Have No Idea; The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue; The House of Silk; Four Princes; Dragon Teeth; and The Book of Joy. Lastly, I buddy read Soleri with Emma.

As for September, I’m going to have to temper my expectations outside of listening to books. (Since I work 20 hours a week, I listen to a lot of books. And don’t read as much outside it as I’d like.)

Now that we’ve gotten through that, let’s see how much money I spent on things! Okay, well, not the money amount, but what I bought.

Mainly, I bought textbooks. I know. Lame. But, alas. Adulting.

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These are my textbooks this semester. Only one I have to return and it’s the one with the huge sticker on it. The rest I own. So that’s nice since most of them are up my alley.

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My mom then gave me this book. We took an ASL class together and now that I’m studying it on my own this is going to be really helpful.

The rest are some random books that I found at Half Price Bookstore and decided to buy. A couple history books, two classics by authors I like, and then a Harry Potter book in Spanish.

Also adding this in. Tonight (8/30/17) while I was texting Chantel to make sure she wasn’t on this, this conversation arose: (We had already also talked about whoring ourselves out, aka self-promos, earlier. You’ll need the context.)

Me: And do we want to make it a post where we comment on each other’s life choices.
Chantel: Yeah that’s what the people want.
M: Don’t you sound like a whore.
C: Is that what a whore sounds like? If I’m not getting paid, they don’t get shit.

So, everyone, please fork up some cash for Chantel. Any amount will do. Wait, no. She wants $500 per post. please send money

Does this mean you are my pimp now?

Fuck yes, I am, ho. I get $300 of that $500.

In August, I was worried that I was going to end up only reading a few books and not get to everything I wanted to read. This ended up being semi-true. I felt little motivation to read throughout the month, and yet I managed to finish, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue which was a book I was really excited about, Taproot, the first ARC I ever reviewed, Juliet Takes a Breath which I had started back in July, and in one day I finished The Seafarer’s Kiss which I have to say was my favorite book all month. 

In September, I have a few book I’m currently reading that I need to finish, so I’m including them to my TBR for the month. In addition, I’m hoping I can read by the end of the month but it’s a little optimistic, to say the least. I’m not necessarily worried if I don’t finish all of these books by the end of September. If I finish three of them, including The Handmaid’s Tale, I’d be happy. 

It’s an LGBTQ+ month for me, not planned at all, just the way things happen in my world. 

When isn’t it an LGBTQ+ month for you? Also, I do want to read When The Moon Was Ours. And tried a little bit of it but I wasn’t a fan of the opening. I’ll look forward to your review and commentary on it.

It’s my life 24/7. #thatqueerlife  

I did read the first chapter of When The Moon Was Ours and I thought it was beautiful. We’ll see how things go. 

I read the first chapter and thought it was tedious. Ah, the differences between us rise again.

I would agree that it’s very slow, there is a lot of figurative language and descriptions. I still enjoyed it, though. It was very lyrical. 

Book Haul! Will take pics and have my list. There is a list because I like books.

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I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile now and it was cheap at the bookstore I bought it from. I believe I also have an ebook copy, so nothing is stopping me from reading this. Except it’s not on my TBR.

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img_0999Look at that art!

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I found a used copy of the Special Collectors Edition at my favorite bookstore and it looks brand new. Easiest purchase I made this month. 

That’s beautiful and I want it and I will find a way to take it from you.

First, you take my money, then you try to take my books, when will it end?!

I’ll stop short of your freedom.

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I adore this cover. 

Yet another book I’ve been wanting to read since it came out earlier this year. I have read Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour so I’m excited to see if I like this book as much. 

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I’ve heard great things about the Graceling series and I only hope it’s as good as I’ve heard. I know very few details about the actual plot, but I know it’s a fantasy book with a strong female character and I’m down for that. 

Ebooks

I don’t know why I got this book. It was two dollars and has an interesting cover. We shall see if my purchase paid off. 

I don’t know much about this story or the book, but I think the cover is gorgeous.

Another one that I want to read.

Me too, I’m really excited to read this. 

When this book went on sale, it was a no-brainer for me. I had to buy it and one day I will read it. 

And now one that I don’t because Leigh Bardugo doesn’t interest me that much, but I’ve heard great things about this one.

I will say that I’m not interested in reading the Grisha trilogy at all, but I’ve heard Six of Crows is much better. Hopefully, the hype doesn’t ruin it. 

That is always the hope.

The description from this book starts out with, “Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black…” I was in and it was on sale so I decided to buy it.

WHAT????

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I fucking love that show (and already severely miss it)!!! Chantel, why didn’t you tell me about this book???

I just found it a few days ago and it’s YA. You don’t like YA. So don’t give me that Alison gif. 

I will give you any gif I want.

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I seriously considered using that gif when I searched Orphan Black gifs, but I wanted a specific Felix one and didn’t want to spoil myself, so there. 

Oh, all the spoilers I could give in one fail swoop.

This was recommended by Emma at Thoughts of a Brown Eyed Girl and it was on sale. There is clearly a theme to my ebook purchases. 

Wait! I’m not done. 

Of course, with two days before the month ends, I ended up buying three more books because I can’t help myself. 

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Now, I know I purchased the ebook version of this, but y’all, I bought this for 5 DOLLARS. 

I couldn’t pass this up for 5 dollars. Plus the pages are blue. 

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This was on my TBR last month and I didn’t get to it. I’m glad I have my own copy now because I had to return the one I had to the library. 

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I first read Junot Diaz back when I went to college and after that, I went and read everything he ever wrote. This is the only full-length novel he has written to date, he also has two short story collections, but I’d highly recommend this novel. I haven’t gotten a chance to talk about it, but it’s one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. Check out the Goodreads description because I can’t even describe it. Go check it out!

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It could be worse. 

 

First Lines Friday 

Omg, it’s already Friday again. I was so tempted to put a Rebecca Black gif in here. You’re welcome.

I would have killed you if you did that.

Hey now, Friday is a catchy song that celebrates the best day of the week. 

Apparently, we’re starting early with the colors because I’m putting them in. Me (Caidyn) will be in blue. Chantel will be in purple.

I forgot that we were doing this. Chantel kindly started the draft which made me nearly cry because I forgot and am feeling very slightly overwhelmed tonight for some reason. But, what’s new with that?

Onto my book, though.

Imagine a land centuries before industrialization, a rural, green land of vast royal forests and open fields, wild moorlands, and undrained marshlands, with scattered villages overshadowed by towering castles, and small, bustling walled towns. A land inhabited by just two million people, whose lives were dominated by the twin calendars imposed by farming and the Church.

This was a realm torn by conflicts between Church and Crown, and by centuries of strife between the indigenous Anglo-Saxon population and the land-hungry Danes; a realm that bore the scars of the savagery of the Viking invaders, who had colonized parts of the island’s north and east — yet nevertheless a realm in which trade and learning flourished, and kings traced their lineage back through the mists of time to Noah and the Norse god Woden. This was an age of faith and superstition and an age of bloody warfare.

Imagine, in place of today’s modern traffic and electronic noise, the sound of birdsong, animals, church bells, plainchant, human voices and the occasional hunting horn or strumming of a lyre. This pleasant land, this rural landscape, was England in the time of the Norman queens.

Did I bore anyone to death? Yes? Oops. Sucks for you. (I only included that much because I thought the prologue painted a beautiful picture.)

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Except replace the martini with wine.

Guesses? No? Okay.

You’ve already threatened and now have attempted to kill me this far into the post. I didn’t realize were at attempted murder already.

Should it surprise you that we are? If I’m pimping you out, then we should be here.

QUEENS OF THE CONQUEST BY ALISON WEIR

While I don’t trust Weir as much as I’d like to these days, I do think her nonfiction is way better than her fiction. I just have to realize she has a bias. Basically, this book covers different queens in the same era. I’m in the process of reading it, so I don’t know how comparable the eras are. However, it covers Matilda of Flanders (wife of William I), Matilda of Scotland (first wife of Henry I), Adeliza of Louvain (second wife of Henry I), Matilda of Boulogne (wife of King Stephen), and Empress Maud.

It’s right up my alley and I’m excited to read it. But it probably sounds boring to everyone else.

Holy shit, three queens named Matilda. I only know one Matilda and she’s badass. 

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I have never seen that movie or read that book. And Matilda was a very popular name. King Stephen actually took the throne from Empress Matilda, though. She would have been the first queen of England. She legit fought a war over it against him.

Now onto my book. 

Jess grits her teeth, going for a running start. The gravel on the trail crunches under her feet, the wind rushes through her hair, and she can taste success. This time. This time, she’s gonna make it. 

The canyon is streaked with color, warm in the afternoon light; golden striations race across the signature rusty reds of the landscape. The sky is a gorgeous impossible blue, and the clouds flutter down the endless horizon, a perfect backdrop for a first flight.


That was exciting, right? RIGHT? It totally was. I was definitely hooked into this book from the first two paragraphs as I was left in anticipation of what was going to happen. This is a good example of how to hook the reader. 

These are the first lines to…

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Not Your Sidekick cover

I’m currently reading this book right now, and I don’t want to spoil my feelings on it. I’ll save that for my eventual review, but this is a book that takes place in a world where superpowers exist. This concept is similar to another book I’ve read called Dreadnought, I hope to read the sequel this month, and while I’m not a huge superhero fan both of these books feature LGBTQ+ characters and I’m a huge fan of that. Isn’t the cover gorgeous? So far, there has been a lot of beautiful descriptions of the Nevada landscape. I look forward to seeing what comes next in this book as I’ve heard great things about it from the few booktubers I’ve heard talking about it. 

I do like the cover and I’ve heard great things about this book as well.

You will just have to eagerly await my review.

 

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carlton Abrams

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

(Caidyn)

4/5

Personally, when I think of religion, this is what I think of. The fundamental good of it, all the ways that they draw people together and accept them no matter what. The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are prime examples of that. They really exemplify the love and compassion, all while showing immense happiness no matter what. Even in the bad times, they show joy and acceptance, all while fighting for change. However, the people who do bad get the most press rather than these people, giving religion a different look.

Joy is so important to live your life. I try to live like that, to have as much joy as possible. Half the time when I’m talking about things that upset me, I’ll throw in a joke and find a way to laugh at it. I accept it and I’m not going to stop fighting for a change, but there’s no point in being upset. Having happiness in your life really improves it. I could cite so much research on that one little thing. It’s hard to find, though, in the world we live in. This book is a great introduction to this through an interreligious dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity, two widely different religions that come together.

This book brings up a lot of concepts, but I’m only going to touch on a few.

For me, compassion is key. I’ve had a love of the topic since I read Pema Chodron last year. She’s an amazing author and if you haven’t read her, I’d highly suggest it. She brings in so many base concepts and ideas to live by. Yes, she weaves in religion, but you can take that out and still find truth in it. Compassion leads to so many things since, to properly practice it (and, by that, I mean a specific Buddhist practice that I won’t get into here) you have to first love yourself. That brings joy. Then, you extend compassion to friends and family then to people you feel neutral about to people you somewhat like and even to people you don’t like. It grows your joy, being able to see how we’re all the same with the same wants.

The next two are humility and humor. I see them as very combined because to have humility, you have to find humor in things. And to find humor, you need to be humble. I always laugh at myself. Not a day goes by when I, much like Tutu, make a self-depreciating comment about myself. It sets off the situation and keeps me from getting on my high horse. Then, I also admit when I don’t know something. I don’t like pretending. I’ve done that enough in my life to know it’s not for me.

Now, as I said, the world is a very different place. It’s full of hate and sadness. Just when I was listening to this book, Hurricane Harvey was on the news. Not to mention the transgender ban from the military. Or the white supremacy battle. I hate to say this and agree with Trump, but there is hate on both sides of this. We do need more people like the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu. Self-change leads to changing the world.

I completely recommend this book. I recommend the audiobook more so since the man who compiled these dialogues narrates it, and there are two other people who read as the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu. It adds a lot to the listen, not to mention that there are so many practices at the end (mainly Christian and Buddhist) that you can find out what could work for you since most really aren’t that religious.

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

Dragon Teeth

(Caidyn)

4/5

I haven’t read much of Crichton’s work. The only book I’ve read was Jurassic Park and, well, I loved it. The writing, characters, and science was great. Perhaps not completely accurate, but I still loved it. This book simply sounded like it. I did no research on this book before jumping in. Author, title, and cover really drew me in and I was happy to keep it that way.

One of the things with this book is that the plot and characters are one. It follows the tale of William Johnson, a rich boy who decides to take a bet to go with a professor to find fossils. At first, Johnson (as he’s called throughout the book) is so annoying. He’s a cocky, rich student at Yales who crashes things for fun. However, he goes through such a radical change. He becomes a determined student in order to even go on the hunt, then he gets caught up in the hunt for bones in the West.

The book was very fast paced at first. I enjoyed getting to know Johnson as a person, seeing him develop and grow. Then, there were Indians and soldiers and crazy rivalries between paleontologists. However, it got slower from there. The journey back, if you can call it that (and not in a bad way) wasn’t as interesting for me. It got better right at the end, but it never quite regained the pace it had.

Another downside for me was that there were so many semi-important characters as the book moved on. I had hoped for more to come back around or for them to stick around, yet most just didn’t except in memory. The only other two main characters, outside Johson, were Cope and Marsh, two very really people.

This book was based on fact. Cope and Marsh were two men who hunted bones and had a very real hatred towards each other. Founding on that relationship and the things they did to each other was fascinating. I came into it having a slight hint that I had heard those names before — couldn’t place them, but I had heard their story — so it brought such a great blend of history to this that it felt I was reading nonfiction at times. Crichton really was meticulous in this book and it shows.

Really, what this book made me do was want to read more of his work. And it makes me sad that I couldn’t have enjoyed him more while he was still alive. He’s a great author and this book impressed me more than Jurassic Park did because of such a dynamic main character and the fantastic way real personalities worked into this book.

Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions That Forged Modern Europe by John Julius Norwich

Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions That Forged Modern Europe

(Caidyn)

3/5

As most of you guys know by now (if you follow my reviews, that is), I have a thing for Tudor England. Most of my knowledge is based around Henry VIII. I’m going to abbreviate most of the king’s names, so Henry is going to be known as H8 for this review. What I know of Francis I (F1) and Charles V (C5) is all based around H8. Like, I know things and how they’re related to England, but not their own kingdoms. I actually had no idea who Suleiman was.

What I liked about this book was that it was a super compact overview of four men who held great sway in the world. As Norwich said, it was the last time that’s ever really happened. It was a Greatest Hits CD for the four of them. It was also well-written, making it easy to understand when it could have been very dense. Norwich made this book read for anyone.

However, a lot of what I had issues with came to be the liberties and misinterpretations Norwich took that coincided with what I thought was good. I have quite a few examples that I jotted down in my outline of this review. He made it seem as if Katherine of Aragon (H8’s first wife) had a stillborn son because she rode on a horse to oversee an army. He fell into the trap of C5’s mom, Juana, was insane when that probably wasn’t the case. Anne Boleyn (H8’s second wife), apparently, lost H8’s love in 1534 and that’s also when Jane Seymour (wife three) came onto the scene. Pretty sure that’s not completely accurate. Jane and Katheryn Parr (H8’s sixth wife) also were the only “good” wives he had. Anne Boleyn also apparently possibly could have committed adultery due to her personality when she was an extremely pious woman.

All that I’m trying to say with that long paragraph is that he’s inaccurate with his recounting. That, for me, throws into question everything with F1, C5, and Suleiman. He lost credibility for me.

For all this book is, it’s good for what it is: A compact overview that takes simple explanations.

Bonk by Mary Roach

Chantel’s rating – 4.5/5

Caidyn’s rating – 4/5


Earlier in the year, Caidyn and I read A Mind of Its Own which was a cultural history of the penis. Ultimately, it was an interesting topic with a poor execution. Bonk was what The Penis Book (what we dubbed it while reading it) should’ve been. Mary Roach’s humor was on point throughout the book combined with essential literature and interviews with experts. Call me crazy, but as a female, I was excited to read chapters featuring female sexuality. I mean, there was a whole chapter about a woman moving her clitoris. That was fun.

There were definitely some disturbing parts of this book. Ones involving penis surgery and one that focused on pig insemination. The last thing I wanted to read is about some of the odd things men do with their penises. While there were times I was squeamish I found myself laughing more than being grossed out. My favorite part of the book was when Mary Roach and her husband participated in getting a 4D ultrasound while having sex. The fact that she was able to convince her husband Ed to be a part of it was hilarious. My only complaint, and it’s small, I would’ve liked a chapter dedicated to asexuality and the science behind that, but back when this book was written/published in 2007-2008, I don’t think there was a lot of research on it. I only hope that has changed.

It really saddens me that sex is such a taboo subject to the point where it can be shameful for some people. Sex is a perfectly natural thing, we are not the only species to do it nor are we the only species to enjoy it outside of reproduction. By combining sex and science, I believe Mary Roach normalized sex and I don’t think that should be overlooked and this is coming from someone who identifies as asexual. She threw herself into this book and research and I was so glad I read it. I can’t wait to read more books by her.

Really, I agree with Chantel completely. (Or, on some pieces.) I thought The Penis Book was too pompous at times and the author pretended to know something when he wasn’t a professional while Roach embraced not knowing things. Not that there’s anything wrong with writing on a topic when you aren’t a professional, just that you have to do a lot of extra work to catch up with an expert and then to exceed them. As someone who often writes on well-researched topics, it’s so hard trying to make sense of the research then add in some new contribution.

For me, Mary Roach was great. I think that it was hilarious and she made no qualms about highlighting the awkwardness of things since sex is awkward. There are odd noises, faces, positions, etc that lend themselves to hilarity and awkwardness. Plus, I actually watched her Ted Talk for my Psychology of Sexual Behavior course (also called psych of sex) in summer and I knew just how funny his book could be going off that one little talk.

However, I just wish that her take home message — that there are sexual differences and you need to learn about those differences to have sex with people — should have been highlighted more. It was a great take home message to have, but it felt like there should have been more. The book was full of odd or funny anecdotes and that seemed to be the main purpose of this book. Let’s look at the weird things scientists thought/think about sex or sexuality and the weird research they did to find proof for it. Not that it’s wrong — scientists are very weird and have hilarious ideas or rivalries — just that I wished that there was more substance to it. I loved the humor, but I wanted more take home messages than funny anecdotes about the oddity of human beings.

The great thing about Bonk is you could tell Mary Roach did a shit ton of research. She’s not a professional, but she completely threw herself into researching for this book by reading actual studies and talking with people who researched and worked in fields relating to sexuality.

That’s really true. She did so much research for this and visited so many various people. Roach is an author you could have as a secondary resource on a paper. Roach took very specific topics and breathed life into them. I think Roach talking about modern research with a look at how we haven’t changed too much from the past (along with her hilarious commentary and anecdotes) made it a more interesting read.

While I appreciated her talking with people in the field at that time, the book is almost ten years old by now. I’d love to know what (if anything) has changed in the worlds of sexual psychology and physiology.

Personally, I don’t think too much has changed with stigma. There’s a lot of stigma around it. However, there’s just so much more technology available — PET scans, ultrasounds, MRIs, and fMRIs — that you can see the true physiological reactions then make inferences based on a person’s verbal response. Such as, Roach talked about how women get aroused (i.e. wet) by watching any type of pornography — straight, gay, animals mating — and they don’t report being aroused by anything except what they think of as their sexuality.

I certainly don’t think it’s gotten easier to research sexuality because there is a stigma, but for example, she talks about certain drugs that were going through trials for the FDA, I suppose a Google search would tell me if they were successful, but things like that seemed a bit dated. Plus, there could’ve been more talk about LGBTQ+ couples and asexuality. However, that’s just a nitpick of mine. I don’t think if she wrote the book today those things would be included. That could be a completely separate book.

If I remember correctly from my class on this topic, there still weren’t any drugs specifically for women and treating sexual disorders for them. Recently, though, there was the push and the backlash over female Viagra. And, I agree on LGBTQ+ relationships and asexuality. There has been a lot of research on it (perhaps not asexuality since that’s technically a sexual disorder in the DSM-5) but it wasn’t included. Perhaps because she didn’t find that topic as interesting to her.

Which doesn’t surprise me. Doesn’t she talk about a sexual disorder or is asexuality different? There are probably more than one. I think that’s fine that she decided to ultimately not go in that direction, I just know that would be interesting to me and that isn’t necessarily a knock on her.

All right, pulling out notes for this now. There are 12+ (depending on how I was to split them up) in my notes over sexual disorders. That’s just a specific category in the DSM. Asexuality is, technically, hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). However, to get diagnosed with it, you have to be upset by it. If you have that, it’s not necessarily that you’re asexual but someone who doesn’t believe that asexuality is a thing could diagnose you as having that and “fix” you. People with HSDD do feel sexual desire and want to have sex. Just that they can’t get aroused.

I see. She does refer to HSDD a few times but also adds in parenthesis low libido. I can’t see myself getting diagnosed with HSDD, asexual fits better. Plus, it’s so much more complicated than not being interested in sex.

No, you wouldn’t be diagnosed with HSDD. Nor would I. Why? Because to be diagnosed you’d have to be seeing a therapist about it specifically and exhibiting the Four D’s as they’re called in abnormal psychology. Distress, danger (to yourself or others), deviance, and dysfunction. Usually, I take distress and danger as the hallmarks of abnormal psych. Asexual people don’t show that sort of thing, you know? It’s not low libido because they aren’t interested. I’m ace and I don’t have a problem getting aroused. When I watch pornography, I’m not going to lie and say I don’t because most people do, I have no problem getting off. It’s just that I don’t have a desire to do the things they do. That’s not HSDD. Although, I think we’ve gotten a bit off topic.

Maybe a little bit. I’m the same way in that I’m not interested but I have the ability to be aroused and get off. It’s just I have no interest in doing that with another person, or at least I’d have to trust that person considerably. Anyway, I think we should stop talking about masturbation and move on.

What??? Come on, let’s just keep going and break societal norms some more. But, okay. I think that in a reprint or something, it’d be important for her to discuss those specific topics since they’ve come more into the view of mainstream media. This book is definitely good, just that it focused on heterosexual individuals and odd anecdotes about researchers, which was something I got a bit tired of. I want the research, not all this about the researcher.

Dammit society for making me uncomfortable! I would’ve liked more about non-heterosexual individuals and relationships, but overall I liked the anecdotes and thought she had a unique point of view and voice with which she talked about the research. I liked the humor a lot and that really made this book better for me because when I wasn’t interested in a certain subject she had something funny to say about said subject.

I do agree about the humor. It was so funny and I literally read some part of it out loud to my dad — about paralysis and checking if a certain reflex is working you have to stick your finger in the rectum and squeeze the penis or clitoris to see if the anal sphincter will squeeze the finger — and he just stared at me like “how the hell is this my child???” I just wish it had gotten serious at times and laid aside the humor. Humor made it better, but I also wanted some substance.

I’d just like to add that I really enjoyed the fact that she had a chapter dedicated to quadriplegics and paraplegics and included so much information and research that showed you can still have a sex life afterward depending on where the injury occurred. I would agree that getting serious could’ve helped, but overall I’d recommend it and read more of her books. I’m intrigued to see how her humor is injected into other topics that might be dull or serious.

I mean, having read her book on cadavers, it can be a very weird combination. And I hope that we decide to read more of Roach’s books in the future for the club.

Don’t worry, I can definitely see us reading more of her books in the future. At least the ones with dirty titles.

All of them are dirty if you have the right (or wrong) mind.

Please tell me how Packing for Mars is a dirty title.

Another time.

Such a tease.

The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

The Seafarer's Kiss cover


“As the weapon sank, the relieved whales rose. Each of them gently brushed my hip as they took a breath, thanking me in their soft, dignified language of touch.” (16)


(Chantel)

4.5/5 – I absolutely love The Little Mermaid (the Disney movie) and I enjoy the movie as it is. When I heard about a queer retelling of The Little Mermaid with a bisexual main character, I was very much into it. And I loved this book. I read it in about eight hours and that’s rare for me. (Not straight through mind you — the season finale of Game of Thrones was on.) I’m not the fastest reader out there, but I could not stop reading this book. It was only 212 pages and there was so much to enjoy about it. So, prepare for a lot of gushing and a tiny bit of nitpicking.

I absolutely loved the setting and the Norse mythology weaved into this story. I don’t know anything about Norse mythology, but I’m suddenly interested. The writing in this book was gorgeous. The descriptions of the glacier the merpeople lived on just made me want to be a part of that world. There was something calming and serene about this book, and I don’t even like the ocean. I can’t even swim, but dammit I wanted to be a mermaid after reading this book.

Now, I’d like to talk about a few different relationships in this book because I feel like they were at the core of this story. First, I’d like to talk about Ersel and her mother. I teared up during a scene with these two and their relationship was so wonderful. I’ll admit, I thought about my own relationship with my mom and that made it even more emotional for me. I would say more but that would lead to spoilers and I really want people to go read this book. In fact, I’m going to be vague because I don’t want to give too much away.

Second, I’d like to talk about Ersel and Ragna. It’s no secret there is an f/f romance in this book. If it’s a surprise to you, well surprise! There’s a scene, again being vague, that was so beautiful and I was blown away. Maybe it’s just because I’m a romantic person, but I loved it. Also, even though their relationship escalated quickly, Ersel acknowledged she didn’t know if things would work out. It was something worth giving a chance and I liked that. It’s not insta-love, but there is potential for love to blossom.

Lastly, I’d like to talk about Ersel and Havamel. Now, I liked Havamel and yet I’m not a huge fan of his role in the plot. This was one of my few nitpicks and something that bothers me in general. In the beginning of the book, Ersel is already upset with him and considers their friendship over. In my mind, a romance between them isn’t going to happen, but then to have him do something so wrong that Ersel might not forgive him was unnecessary because he’s not a bad person. I think showing their friendship throughout would’ve been nice because as I’ve said before, two people can be friends without the potential for romance.

I should also talk about Loki. In this book specifically, Loki’s gender is not male nor female but both and neither at the same time. I’m not labeling them specifically because I don’t know the specific label. Basically, they go back and forth between male and female forms and it’s amazing. However, Loki wasn’t the most likable character by a long shot. I’m sure that’s part of Loki’s mythology, they are clever and funny, but also awful. Horrible things happen because of Loki. Personally, I just loved the idea of a character with no fixed gender and everyone accepted them as such. However, I acknowledge that I’m cisgender and I might feel completely different if I wasn’t.

I just want to continue talking about this book and encouraging others to read it. It’s a fantasy book with an f/f romance and body positivity. I need more books like this. I want more books with a folklore I’m unfamiliar with and a world I can just sink into. It’s a great time to read LGBTQ+ books right now and I wish I had more books like this when I was a teenager.

 

Blogging + College = ???: First Week and Grad School Woes

(Caidyn)

I survived. Somehow, I did it. I can’t remember if I actually said what classes I’m taking, so let’s just go through it.

First, I’m taking a class called Women and Culture. It’s all about, well, women and culture. I’m not sure what focus it’s going to have, but I’m assuming it’s more Western and even American with the focus largely on white people with more commentary on black women struggles later on. We have a predominantly white class, so it makes sense. There are also only two males in the class (myself included). It’s a freshman level class so that’s always interesting. And, as expected, a damn group project. I don’t miss freshman courses.

Second, I’m taking Psychology Seminar: Intuition. This takes a big of background. As a psych major, I have to take a senior level course where you strut your stuff. This is that. You come up with a research proposal, complete with a literature review and mock methodology, results, and discussion section. You also do an oral presentation. Each semester varies for what the topic is. This semester it’s intuition. However, I’ve avoided this professor my whole time at my college because of his reputation. He’ll love you one second and hate you the next. Hopefully I got on his good side since I agreed to be in his research as a participant.

Third, there’s Europe in the High Middle Ages. More technically, it’s about Christendom in the years 1000-1300/1350. We’re focusing more on Christianity and Southern Europe. The biggest thing for me is that, based on the first week, I’m holding my own in the class. It’s an upper level course so most of the people in the class actually are history majors or minors. I’m not. I just read up on it for fun. And, I actually held a conversation and could name things in class. I’m proud of myself for that. I feel like I’m going to get a lot out of it and, even better, no research paper!!

Fourth, and finally, is my class on The Jewish Faith. Basically, it’s an introduction to Judaism. I have some background because of a few other courses I’ve taken (Intro to World Religions, World Religions; and Religion, Ethnicity, and Race). But, I want to know more about it since it interests me. It also serves as a good way to do some research for myself. My professor is a new professor and it already shows. They’re figuring it out as it goes, something I like and don’t like.

So there’s that. I survived and have succeeded beyond that.

However, Saturday morning, I decided to look at graduate schools and freaked myself out and discouraged myself a bit.

I was only going to apply to two programs, University of Kansas (KU) and University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). KU is closer to me with a more specific program while UMKC is farther away with a more general education. UMKC became my first choice based on the education. Whereas KU is pathway oriented (aka you choose a path and that’s all that you learn) UMKC teaches a little bit of everything.

Then I looked at UMKC’s requirements for school. Unlike KU, you have to take the GRE… which is a standardized test sort of like ACT/SAT to get into graduate school. I don’t want to take it. UMKC requires it, while KU doesn’t. (And, trust me, I just emailed the person in charge of admissions for KU’s MSW program about it to be sure I don’t suddenly need to start enrolling in test dates and studying and hoping for the best.)

So, down to one school I’m applying to. But, hey, it’s all good. I only applied to one college, too, actually. Unlike everyone who applied to a million, I went to community college for a year, got a letter in the mail from my current college, and applied. Got in and that was that.

Now I just have to hope that KU takes me and I’m not back to square one with shit.